Experimenting with Glenfiddich

EXPERIMENTATION was the theme earlier this week when Glenfiddich and SLTN teamed up for an online tasting.

The session, hosted by Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mark Thomson, was the latest in SLTN’s Trade Tastings series and featured three drams: the Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva, and Glenfiddich Fire & Cane, as well as Hoffenhawf, a beer specially brewed by Glasgow’s West Brewery to pair with Glenfiddich IPA.

IPA, the first in Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series, was finished in casks that previously held a specially-created IPA-style beer. Describing the expression as “light, easy and zesty”, Thomson said the dram “makes you think of summer days and fragrances”.

It was accompanied by Hoffenhawf, a 4% ABV ale created by West head brewer Simon Roberts in conjunction with nine bar owners from across Scotland, who had been recruited by Glenfiddich. The aim of the project was to brew a beer that paired with Glenfiddich IPA so that the two liquids could be enjoyed as a traditional ‘half n half’ serve.

Roberts said the resulting beer “not only complements but at the same time undercuts the bitterness which is there and persistent and assertive (in the whisky) but isn’t dominating”. “For me, it’s almost like a palate cleanser between each sip, which lets you go back to the whisky afresh every time,” he said.

Glenfiddich 21 year old Gran Reserva was up next.

The expression is finished in rum casks, which Thomson said results in “an envelope of sweetness wrapping itself around the slightly drier notes you would find in the 21 year old whisky”.

“For me, the 21 year old has this rich, opulent note to it,” he said. “And there’s a lovely balance between sweetness and dryness. It’s almost salty. A kind of salt caramel.”

The fourth (and most recent) addition to the Glenfiddich Experimental Series, Fire & Cane, rounded out the tasting.

The expression contains a mixture of peated and unpeated spirit, which is then finished in casks that have been seasoned with rum.

Thomson said the expression harks back to earlier days at Glenfiddich, when the distillery’s whisky was peated, while the rum seasoning gives the spirit a “rich molasses note which wraps around that drying saltiness”.

“Experimentation has been going on for a long time at Glenfiddich,” said Thomson.

“It’s not something new. Some things work. Some things don’t.

“When we brought out the Experimental Series it was to try and give a home to these experiments. Looking at what we had and thinking ‘these work and we’ve got loads of them. Let’s go’.”